Self-assured India - Our time has come

Heinz Nissel

„Incredible India“ increasingly lays claim to a world-politically respected status which complies with a self-determined state in a „natural“ role of leadership. This essay is supposed to demonstrate to what extent this self-conception already reflects realistic political power factors or will be looming by 2030 – measured by the development of the military, holding the Nuclear Triad, ambitions in space, the economic basis, and comparative measurements of (geo-)political power. This analysis represents the continuation of „India and China - rivals in the new world order“ (ÖMZ 5/2020, S.555). Whereas the first essay dealt with India's foreign political facts and challenges with the focus on the complex relationships with China, now the question arises whether the high-flown political claim of leadership of a (possible future) great power is consistent with the previous development, and which visionary targets are pursued in this decade. Undoubtedly, the military dimension is the key role for the possible leadership power. Despite the political overall concept of a tradition of non-interference and retention of self-government, the armed forces of India have developped considerable strength in all areas. Although their potentials are outnumbered by those of the USA and China, they cannot be ignored any longer, as far as their particular interests in conservation and configuration are concerned. In spite of a multitude of problems and deficits mentioned here, they pursue (maybe exaggerated) ideas of future magnitude. One reason for this is the unaided nuclear development which made India the fourth country holding the Nuclear triad. India's scientific-technological competence manifests in her great ambitions and achievements concerning the race into space. As the basis of political display of power, her economy has had considerable growth rates for many years, although there were some setbacks 2019/2020. Nevertheless, the country is on the passing lane and will presumably take over the third world rank as far as its economy is concerned. This is also indicated by comparative measurements and assessments of political power both for the G20 and the Indo-Pacific region. The power-political distance between China and India, measured by the Lowy Asia Power Index, is roughly as large as that between India and Bangladesh. This presumably really depicts the existing proportions of power in the Asian-Pacific region. Everything indicates that the great rivalry for the role of leadership will still be between China and the USA. Whereas the biggest leaps concerning the economic recovery (approx. 170%) are prognosticated for India until 2030, meaning parity with the USA, the demographic decline of Japan has an economic recovery of only 12% expected. The prognoses until 2030 account for a clear picture for the world’s new centre of power, the large area Asia-Pacific pushed especially by the USA: China first, the USA second, India third – albeit by far. This hierarchy might become effective all over the world. Complex long-term prognoses, however, naturally remain uncertain due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate change, and possible intensified global trade wars.